Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you:
by the same Spirit graciously make holy
these gifts we have brought to you for consecration,
that they may become the Body and Blood
of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
at whose command we celebrate these mysteries.
When I hear the priest say this prayer at Mass, I see a touch of irony in the word “command.” At the Last Supper, after Jesus changed the bread and wine into his Body and Blood, he told the apostles, Do this in memory of me.” That was the command. To me, that is like saying, “Win the top prize,” or, “Realize your best possible dream,” or, “Enjoy complete health and happiness.”
When I consider the word “command,” I think of an order—as in military service—or a strict rule I should follow. However, this “command” Jesus gave about repeating his action in remembrance of him, to me, has a different connotation. It is like being blessed and given life-saving sustenance with what outwardly appear to be simple bread and wine. How grateful we should all be for such a command.
By doing what Jesus did at the Last Supper, we are fed the very flesh and blood of our Savior. And he did not make it complicated. He turned a Jewish observance of Passover with a dozen guests into a feast that has been celebrated almost every day of the year by countless followers! How joyful we should be to have that command from Jesus!
Jesus said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”. (Luke 22:15)
That word, “eagerly,” also stands out for me. Jesus was eager to be with his apostles. He wanted to share with them his love and understanding. I dare say he was eager to give them his Body and Blood to make them strong and resilient.
How eager are we to receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus? Do we unintentionally get so used to going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion that we take it for granted and do not welcome Jesus as eagerly as we know we should? Our world seems to be in a high-tech, speeded-up mode most of the time. Our eagerness can be subverted by anxiety and distractedness.
A word that we don’t hear often in everyday speech is “covenant.” At the Last Supper, Jesus said that the wine is the “blood of the covenant.” (Matthew 26:28) A covenant is an agreement. We read in the Old Testament that God made a covenant with the Israelites to protect them when they were faithful to him. Jesus protects us with his Body and Blood; he saved each one of us. He gives us opportunities to be so close to him that we actually consume His Body and Blood. We can renew our covenant of love and faith in him daily—even by entering a spiritual communion with him when we are not actually receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist at Mass.
Words can be powerful and full of meaning and connotations. I remind myself, and you, the reader, to take the time to listen and reflect. So many words!
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
The excerpt from Eucharistic Prayer III is from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.
The Scripture passage is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.